Training accident kills one soldier, injures 14 others

Thursday, March 21, 2002

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Two artillery shells fell short during an Army firing exercise and exploded near a mess tent where soldiers were eating breakfast Wednesday.

One soldier was killed and 14 were injured.

The soldiers, from the 10th Mountain Division's 110th Military Intelligence Battalion, were about 200 yards from the edge of the 90-square-mile target area when the shells hit at 7:20 a.m., the Army said.

The dead soldier was identified as Pfc. William Hamm, 34, of Ocala, Fla.

The howitzers are capable of firing several kinds of rounds and have a range of up to 12.2 miles. Wednesday's 105 mm rounds were fired from about three miles away and "wouldn't have made any sound," McDorman said.

The live-fire exercise was one of two such exercises scheduled each year at the northern New York post, which sprawls across nearly 170 square miles. It is 140 miles northwest of Albany in far upstate New York.

"Everyone takes them seriously because your life depends on how well you learn. We are focused and concentrated when we are in the field. It's not like little kids playing army in the back yard," Spc. Peter Lakey said.

Fort Drum is the home of the 10th Mountain Division, an infantry force of about 10,500 soldiers. It was the Army's most deployed division during the 1990s, and members were recently sent to take part in the war in Afghanistan. The soldiers have yet to return.

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